HONG KONG: Most Asian markets moved higher Friday, as Japanese stocks rose for a second straight session to their highest in nearly seven years, and as shares in South Korea, Singapore and Australia hit new records.
Malaysian shares added 0.5 percent to close at a new year high of 1,283.47, despite the benchmark index languishing in negative territory for most of the day.
Tokyo's Nikkei Stock Average of 225 issues added 79.63 points, or 0.44 percent, to finish at 18,188.42 - the Nikkei's highest close since May 8, 2000.
The index rose 1.09 percent the previous day.
Traders said stocks advanced on expectation that the market will move in a positive direction after Wednesday's rate hike by Japan's central bank erased market uncertainty.
Real estate, shipping stocks closed higher, as did a segment of exporter blue chips on a weaker yen against the dollar.
Losers included Sanyo Electric Co., which plunged 20.96 percent to 181 yen (US$1.50) on a news report that the company is under investigation by Japan's securities authorities over suspected earnings window dressing.
In Hong Kong, shares fell amid broad-based profit taking after a recent rally. The blue chip Hang Seng Index fell 97.58 points, or 0.5 percent, to 20,711.65.
The benchmark index rose 677 points in the last five sessions.
Despite Friday's drop, analysts remained bullish about the market.
The fundamentals are intact with no obvious market uncertainties next week, they said.
"The market is expecting positive news in the government budget next week,'' said Ben Kwong, chief operating officer of KGI Asia Ltd, referring to widespread expectations of a tax cut.
The Hong Kong government will deliver its annual budget next Wednesday.
A general upturn in mainland Chinese stocks will also lend support to Hong Kong shares, Kwong added.
Banking heavyweight HSBC fell for the fourth day, dropping 0.4 percent at HK$138.20, despite news that the chief of its troubled North American operations has stepped down.
HSBC share prices have been affected by lingering concerns over the deterioration in its U.S. mortgage business, which triggered an unprecedented profit warning earlier this month.
In currency trading, the U.S. dollar was trading at 121.46 yen mid Friday, down from 121.60 yen late Thursday in New York.
The euro fell to US$1.3124 from US$1.3125.Elsewhere:
JAKARTA: Indonesia shares fell 16.89 points, or 0.9 percent, to close at 1,791.55 in moderate volume trade, as a technical correction in bellwether Telekomunikasi Indonesia and mining shares weighed on the index.
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian shares added 0.5 percent to close at a new year high of 1,283.47, despite the benchmark index languishing in negative territory for most of the day.
MANILA: Philippine shares rose as the market continued to attract investors seeking better returns after treasury bill yields hit record lows earlier in the week. The 30-company Philippine Stock Exchange Index advanced 23.84 points, or 0.7 percent, to 3,389.37.
SEOUL: South Korean stocks extended their gains to close at a new record high, led by brokerage stocks and builders. The Korea Composite Stock Price Index, or Kospi, rose 4.47 points, or 0.3 percent, to 1,469.88.
SINGAPORE: Singaporean shares rose to a record high, led by strong performances by technology stocks after the Nasdaq rallied overnight. The benchmark Straits Times Index climbed 21.59 points, or 0.65 percent, to finish at 3,310.44.
SYDNEY: Australian stocks ended the week at record highs, with resources providing momentum to keep the market moving upward. The benchmark S&P/ASX200 index gained 19 points, or 0.32 percent, to 6,036.1, beating Thursday's record close.
WELLINGTON: New Zealand's stocks broke a five-day losing streak as investors welcomed blue-chip power firm Contact Energy's investment plans, although brokers warned the market could succumb to more profit-taking next week. The benchmark NZX-50 rose 30.5 points, or 0.8 percent, to 4,120.31.
Financial markets in China and Taiwan remained closed Friday for the Chinese New Year holidays. - APLatest business news from AP-Wire
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